Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Dearest Family and Friends,

Well, it's been another amazing week here in Atlanta Georgia!!! When is it NOT an amazing week? I just love it here. This week was pretty slow "work" wise, but we got a lot accomplished!!

Zone Conference....we had zone conference this last week and Elder Zwick came to train us with his wife. It was such an amazing conference!!! I learned SOOO much. So, I will just share all the things I learned. We talked about the importance of loving your companion, and the power of studies. It was incredible. I learned that I really need to love my companions the way Christ loves them...they were chosen to be my sisters for this period of time. I am going to try and serve them more this week. I love them both, but I need to love them even MORE! :) I'm very excited to see how our companionship grows this week!! We also learned more about the Atonement, and how we need to wear it on our hearts. I gained such a deeper understanding of the Atonement. It really can help us with anything we are going through....anything. Elder Zwick talked to us about simplicity. We did a training/activity where we picked a Gospel principle in Preach My Gospel, found a small piece of a scripture to back it up, and he randomly selected companionships to go to the pulpit and 1) share the principle 2) share an experience 3) share a scripture and 4) testify. All of that had to be done in about 2 minutes. He really taught us about the strength and power of a testimony when it's short, simple, and to the point. He is really preparing us to be powerful missionaries! We talked about sacrifice as well, and what it truly means to obey the law of sacrifice. We concluded that we need to submit CHEERFULLY to the will of the Lord...always. It was SO powerful. We also talked about dry rot. Wood may look like it's sturdy, but on the inside it is really just dust. He talked about pornography and other sins, and how we need to clear them now so we can be STRONG, and not like the dry rot. We also talked about not plateauing in the mission. It was such a powerful training. I learned SOOO much. Elder Zwick really has a lot of faith in us and wants us to be really amazing misisoanries. I am SO excited!!! The zone conference lasted all day with a 40 minute break for lunch, and a 2 hour break for finding and dinner. We got home around 10 ish. It was a LONG day full of SO MUCH GOOD!! When we went finding, we knocked a random neighborhood. NONE of them spoke Spanish because we weren't in a Spanish area, so we got to try out finding in English! It was SO much fun! A cute older couple let us in the house, and we taught them a small lesson. It was so incredible. I just love being a missionary. :) That night we had a devotional with all the Bishops/Relief Society President's/etc. from various stakes. Elder Zwick talked about how we NEED members. It was SO powerful. So, yes, zone conference was the bomb, in case you were wondering. :) this week we really wanted to try and work with members more, like we have been the past couple weeks. But we tried a different approach. We made all the members a Halloween "goody bag" or as the Zone Leader called it....a "bribery bag ;)" and we've been delivering these treats to all the members and less actives. We have been leaving behind a simple message, commitment, and told them we were here if they needed anything. We have REALLY seen a difference. The branch is really starting to love and trust us more. Some of them have even said, "Hey, why haven't you called for us to go on team-ups?" It's AMAZING. The Lord really does prepare a way, as long as we are doing what we should. It's incredible! not a whole lot has changed from last week. Tonight we are doing an FHE with Abraham and Milagros, and our branch president and his wife!! We also have an appointment with Juan and the first counselor and his wife are coming with us!!!! Miracles all over the place!!!! A funny thing about investigators...we have been giving them "levels of difficulty" Apparently it's associated with Pokémon...but I am unfamiliar with it...but for those of you who do, we have been giving levels. Loupe, the referral from the Brockett sisters used to be a level 3....until she started talking about how she heals the sick when she commands the name of Jesus Christ because of her faith, and other crazy stuff....then we deemed her a level 9....she'll come around!! We know she will be blessed in this Gospel!! But it's been a fun thing we do to talk about the levels our investigators are at. You gotta keep it fun!! ;)

Primary Activity....we had a really fun Primary activity this last week. It was so fun to see all the cute kids in their costumes. We got to help prepare the food and get to know the members more. It was soooo much fun!! The Lord really is providing us with a lot of opportunities to bond with the members. :)

Saturday....this last Saturday was SUPER fun. The Mata family took us out to lunch for Sister Stewart's birthday....and then Alejandro (a member who goes to Brockett ward now....:( ) met us at iHop and we had dinner!! It was SOOO fun. I just love the members!!! This week really has been just a BLAST. I just love it here!, remember Sally and Jessy? Their mom is SUPER less active.....and guess what? SHE CAME TO CHURCH YESTERDAY FOR ALL 3 HOURS!!!!! It was such a miracle. Sally and Jessy had been praying for that...and their prayers were answered....:) It was so sweet. The members were also super happy yesterday. Everyone just seems to be happier lately! Happiness is just going around!!! Happy happy. We also delivered a lot of the treats on Sunday. It was fun to visit a lot of the members and less actives. I just love being a missionary. It's the best. No joke.

Well, that was my week! It was absolutely incredible and I learned SOO much!!! Thanks for all the prayers and support....OH. We are doing exchanges this week...and the STL's are having me stay BY MYSELF in Chamblee, and my companions are going English. Obviously the STL's don't speak for all of Tuesday and Wednesday....I'll be taking care of the area all by myself....yikes. Wish me luck. I guess the Lord thinks I'm ready...I'm not so sure....BUT I have a lot of faith!!! It won't be perfect....but it will be a great learning opportunity! Love you all, hope you have a great week!

Hermana Bringhurst

Monday, October 19, 2015

Zippidie Doo Dah!

Dearest Family and Friends,

Wow. On a scale of 1 to week has been an 11 this week. I couldn't really tell you exactly why, I'm just super happy. :)

Coke World....for P-day last week we went to Coke World. My expectations were a little low after some of the stories I I wasn't expecting much. Let me just say that it was actually super fun!!! I really enjoyed myself! There were 2 movies, a picture opportunity with the large white bear, and a room where you could taste test 100 different coke flavors around the world! It was super awesome! So, we finally did something fun and signature to Atlanta for P-day! :) We also saw 2 different LDS families. They came to say hi to us. Oh, I just love the cute LDS families that want to say hi to the missionaries. It definitely made my day perfect! I figured I'd catch you up on all the people we're teaching. I was so focused on Ana, her kids, and Walter that I just forgot to mention the rest. Now that we've dropped Walter, and Ana has moved to Texas...I've got to start talking about other people.

Maria...we found her knocking. She had heard missionaries before. I don't know why she stopped listening. She's had a lot of tragedy in her life, and she is SUPER depressed. She liked just using our lessons as a "my life is hard make me feel better" sort of thing, but we've decided we need to bring happiness in her life. We brought a member who is really happy all the time, and that seemed to help. Maria is on date for baptism, but she works every Sunday and can't come to church. We are trying to set her up with our Relief Society president who works in the same field as her to try and help her get work off Sunday. She's super nice, and hopefully this Gospel can bring happiness in her life.

Juan....we found him knocking as well. He was SUPER open to everything. He accepted a Book of Mormon and read it on his own before we even met with him! He is Catholic, but he really likes learning about our church. He has accepted EVERYTHING we've taught, he just won't get baptized because he was already baptized in the catholic church. We are working with him on that. We teach him every Monday night. Hopefully he can TRULY know our message is true, and accept baptism. he also works every

Guadalupe....she was a member referral. (more like a less-active referral) I've talked about her before, but we stopped teaching her because she just wasn't answering or progressing. We got back in contact, and actually have taught her 2 times this last week. We put her on date for baptism!! We finally got to meet her husband as well. She wants us to start teaching her granddaughter. There is a LOT of potential within this family, and I'm SOOO excited!!

Gonzalo....we found him knocking. The elders taught him before, but I guess he didn't progress. After the elders taught him, his wife passed away from cancer. I guess this life event helped him realize that he is missing something. When we went to our first appointment with him, he was actually waiting at the door for us!! So cute!! It was awesome. We put him on date for baptism as well. So, we have 3 on date, and we're working with them all. There's something that's holding each of them back, but we'll get there!! Gonzalo has been in Florida for he won't be back for another he's been reading the Book of Mormon!! :)

Lupe....she was a referral from the English sisters. She is SUPER Christian, and it's awesome!! She promised to read the Book of Mormon. She's heard a lot about "Mormons" but had some misinterpretations, and we cleared those other words "no I will not be one of many wives". ;) So funny. She doesn't have a phone, so it's kind of a "hit and miss" with visiting her. She's super sweet though. She's SOOO golden! I can't wait to see how she progresses!

District Meeting...SO AMAZING!!! We played PMG Jeopardy. It was SO fun. Elder Taufa also baked brownies, and the sisters baked a cake, and the other elders brought ice cream. We celebrated my birthday, and elder Cruz's birthday. It was SOO fun. We really do have the BEST district family! :)

BIRTHDAY.....I literally had the BEST birthday in the entire world!!! 2 days before my birthday we visited a member for dinner, and we had a cake and she sang to me :) It was SO sweet. Then the day after my birthday we called Abraham to schedule an appointment, and he sang for me too. He's so sweet!!! Then the day after my birthday we went to the Mata's house for dinner, and she baked me a cake!! I don't even know how she knew it was my birthday!!! The elders called and sang happy birthday to me in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese (more like....shing wong ping pong haaa shing!!!) It was SOO funny. I just had the best birthday ever. I received SOOO much love from my family, and I was also loved here. :) :) remember the rough week we had last week? Well, this week we saw the fruits of our labor!! We called it the miracle of referrals. We received at least 5 referrals this last week from various sources. It was amazing. Heavenly Father is truly trusting us with his precious children. We are going to work SUPER hard and take care of them! :) SOOOO we had a member of the 70 come to our little branch!!! His name is Elder Soares from Brazil! SOOO cool. We normally have 90 ish...maybe...come to church every week. But this week we had 135!!!! It was amazing. The spirit was SOOO strong. It was absolutely incredible. I wish I could describe to you how it felt to sit in that Sacrament Meeting with a member of the 70 and SO many people present. I know our little branch just felt SO honored to have him come. What an incredible experience. I hope this sparked a desire in everyone to come back to church. It was amazing.

So, my week was the BOMB. It truly was. I am SOOO blessed to be a missionary. Truly. Thank you for always supporting me, loving me, and praying for me. It truly makes a difference. Love you all!

Hermana Bringhurst

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Success Comes From Within

Dearest family and friends,

This week has probably been one of the toughest weeks of my mission, but I learned more this week than I ever have before. It was INCREDIBLE. I cannot wait to share it with you. :)

So, the week began with an amazing lesson with a man named Juan. We found him knocking on exchanges. We met him 3 weeks ago, but hadn't been able to meet with him. BUT, he had been reading the Book of Mormon. So, that was awesome. We taught him the Restoration when we finally got to meet him. We had to teach him outside his door because he was home alone. Usually I approach those lessons with a "bummer" attitude because I feel like it's hard to teach just standing there. But BOY was I proven wrong. THis lesson was INCREDIBLE. The spirit was so strong, and he was truly touched. I wish I could have the words to describe how amazing it was. So, this lesson pumped us up for the week. We made a goal to be EXACTLY obedient, and work harder than we ever have before. So, here we are - best lesson ever - now we're pumped.

This leads us to District Meeting the next day. It was actually interviews as well, so the AP's came and did some training with our district. When they got to the front and said, "we want to talk about how to work with members" I, this is like the 5th time we've been trained on MUST be important. So, I listened intently. With our newfound determination to work hard, this meeting really helped give us the motivation to work with members. We prayerfully selected members for each investigator, and began calling EVERYONE to schedule appointments. We were challenged to have at least 1 team up everyday, and NEVER teach an investigator without a member. Yikes. That's intimidating. But we wanted to do it. We had 1 to 2 teamups scheduled EVERYDAY until Sunday. We were PUMPED.

So now here we are - ready to work hard - and we find out that Ana and her kids really are moving to Texas....and they're leaving tomorrow. We went to go say bye to them, and they had already left. So we didn't even get to say goodbye. It was absolutely heartbreaking. But we were on our way WITH a member to go to an appointment, so there was no time for discouragement. The lesson was good. Maria, the lady we taught who's on date, really connected with the member we brought, and it was awesome.

Next day, we had two member presents scheduled....and both of them cancelled. Boo. Oh well, we were still able to teach Abraham and Milagros. It was the BEST lesson. Ever. We watched The Restoration and had a Book of Mormon testimony meeting. Abraham and Milagros are very Bible Bible Bible no Book of we really hoped this lesson would soften their hearts. At the end, they said they'd read it. We asked Abraham to say the prayer and ask God if the book of Mormon was true....and he actually did. We ask him EVERY time, and he never has. So that was amazing. After his prayer, the spirit just flooded into the room. I wish you could've seen his face. I know without a doubt that he received his answer. We asked him how he felt....and he just stared at us...with no words...then he said "thank you for coming" and we left. It was the most POWERFUL lesson I've ever been in!!

Then...things started going downhill. EVERY single appointment we had for the week cancelled. We knocked a billion doors, visited a billion people, and no one answered. All our member presents fell through and it was a bummer. To top it all off....we had to give Walter over to the Elders. It was the hardest decision we've ever had to make. My heart was broken. I've never felt so sad in my entire mission. You literally give EVERYTHING to this work and to the people...and when they don't want your message, it just breaks you. I can't describe it. It was such a bummer week. Also, Abraham texted us and said he won't read the Book of Mormon. So even after that amazing lesson....he won't progress. It's truly heartbreaking. We were SO distraught. We were SO obedient and did everything we were supposed to and worked harder than before....and everything fell through. We lost Ana and her family. We dropped Walter. All our appointments fell was just sad.

THEN. Here's where this week becomes the greatest week of my entire mission. I learned something very important. We can only do our best. We can only do our part. Did we have success? No. BUT. The elders had their investigator family come to church, and they're getting baptized this Saturday. That was a miracle. The elders had something amazing happen! Were there other miracles happening throughout the mission? Of COURSE!!! We may not have been direct recipients of success and miracles and blessing this week....but when you start focusing on what DID happen....that's when the true miracles occur. I have SO many blessings. SO many. Too many to count. From all our efforts of coordinating member presents, we strengthened our relationship with the branch. People are trusting us more and asking us for our help. I also grew this week. Our investigators may not have progressed....but I did. We learned in district meeting how to be a progressing missionary. What defines a progressing investigator?? Keeping commitments, and growing in the Gospel. So what defines a progressing missionary? Being obedient, and growing in the Gospel. I did just that this week. I can only do my best and what I'm supposed to be doing. I may not have been a direct recipient of "success" this week....but other people were, and I can look at their experiences and be grateful. An amazing family is getting baptized into Chamblee this week. How amazing is that?? I know that more miracles and blessings are in store....maybe not now, or in a couple weeks, but they are. I've recognized the Lord's hand in my life more fully this week. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful for this week. It was seriously the best week of my mission. I love serving my Heavenly Father and His children. This work is incredible. I can't wait to work even HARDER this week. I can't wait to see how I grow, and notice more blessings around me.

I hope you all have an amazing week!! :) Thank you for your prayers and support. :)

Hermana Bringhurst

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

My dearest family and friends,

This week has been absolutely amazing!!!! I learned SOOOOO much!!!!, we were able to go to the temple this last week for Zone Conference. That was such an incredible experience. I hadn't been to the temple in 3 months, so it was SO nice to be able to go again. 3 zones were there, and we did two sessions. It was SO powerful. I can't even describe the spirit I felt. To have all the missionaries gathered together in the temple was indescribable. We were all in the Celestial Room at the same time. It was so neat to just look at everyone dressed in white. It truly felt like heaven. I love being a missionary, and I love being a member of this perfect church. A huge theme I found in conference these past couple days was temple attendance, staying worthy, and keeping the covenants made in the temple. After going to the temple, and then receiving this counsel, I've decided to make the temple something very important in my life. I will stop at nothing to receive a temple marriage, and I want to attend as often as I can when I get back from my mission. I love the temple! one of the things we learned in Zone Conference was that "if we expect miracles, we'll recognize them." As a companionship, we really took that to heart. We tried this week to expect miracles, and pray for them, and write all the miracles down we saw at the end of the day. I have 2 miracles I would like to share. First, we were headed to a dinner appointment, but arrived 30 minutes early. We decided to go knocking. We prayed before we started that we would see a miracle. We came across a mom, her daughter, and her daughter's son sitting outside. We began talking with them and getting to know them. We then started talking about our church, the Book of Mormon, and everything else we had learned from Zone Conference. We bore testimony as well. They really felt the spirit. They accepted the Book of Mormon, and asked us to come back. That was indeed a miracle. Everything we learned in Zone Conference helped us talk with that family. It's amazing to see what people the Lord puts in front of us. The second involves Walter. He hadn't been keeping his commitments, and didn't come to church again last week. So, we decided that giving him LOTS of attention like we usually do, wasn't helping. We prayed about what to do, and decided to give him a few days to himself. Maybe it would help him see what it's like to not have us around. After 4 days, we really felt like we needed to visit him. We went to his house, and he was outside by his car. He didn't look good. He told us he had something he needed to talk to us about...and it didn't sound like good news. We told him we loved him, and he always reciprocates, but he didn't this time. We were SUPER worried. We were driving to English class and decided to say a prayer. In the middle of our prayer, Walter called us. He sounded just like his old self and told us he loved us :) We scheduled an appointment. That truly was a miracle. I was just grateful that he reached out to us and was okay!! :) So, we see many miracles as missionaries.

Teaching....I thought I'd give an update on who we are teaching. Sadly, after that amazing miracle with Walter....he is ignoring us, tells his children to send us away when he's home, and he doesn't answer our calls our texts. Please keep him in your prayers. He probably just needs some time. But, it's really discouraging. Ana and her kids are doing great. They told us yesterday they had to move to Texas to live with their that was a shock, and very sad. There were a lot of tears yesterday. They were supposed to be leaving today. But, Ana found this place that would take her and her kids in, teach her English, help them get to school, etc. So we'll keep our fingers crossed! We still teach a lot of people, but it's all so random that it would be boring for me to describe every single person. We found Gonzalo and Juan while knocking, and both of them are progressing REALLY well. They LOVE the Book of Mormon. Gonzalo is on date for baptism, so we're helping him out. Maria (another we found knocking) is also on date, but we haven't been able to meet with her. So, we teach a lot of wonderful people, and they teach ME a lot :) When they start progressing further I'll go into more detail. :)

Funny I thought I'd share something funny. My companions and I like to play this game called "Guess what's inside?" when we go to a member's house to eat. They feed us every other Thursday. 3 times we've had this twice baked potato thing. (they are from Peru) Inside the potato the first time was raisins....and a weird meat. The second time it was peppers...and chicken. The third time I didn't know what to was tomatoes, hamburger meat, and a boiled egg. It's better than it sounds :) It's SO fun to guess what's going to be inside the weird potato. So, that's my funny story. of course conference was amazing!!!! I just want to share my testimony. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that the three new apostles were called of God. I know that we are truly lead by God through the prophets. I am so grateful for the counsel I received at conference. I learned two very important things. 1) The temple is very important 2) Having the spirit with you is important. All my questions got answered and I even received revelation for some investigators. Conference really is amazing. I don't know how much I can express my love for the men that lead the church. I hope everyone had an amazing conference weekend.

Well, thank you for all your prayers and support. I love you all SOOO much! Hope you have an amazing week!

Hermana Bringhurst

At the temple